Teaching the Spiritual Essence of Yoga with Integrity
Spiritual knowledge is best gained from our own gurus, teachers, and mentors, from ongoing practice, and, often, from bitter experiences such as loss. There are also skills that we can learn, such as how to really listen to others, how to respond effectively, and so on. These are often taught in counseling courses, which can be an extremely useful addition to any yoga teacher's armory.
Remember that even though we cannot expect to make great progress in teaching spirituality until we develop it in ourselves, we can still be good yoga teachers if we teach to the level at which we have been trained. We often give our students a lot more than we realize, especially if we are perfectionists. But we need to study hard and practice diligently to continuously upgrade our skills.
Preparing to Teach with Spirituality
First spend time contemplating what yoga and spirituality mean to you. Ground yourself and sharpen your awareness.
Only teach what you have studied, learned, and embodied. Recognize your level and do not to teach beyond it.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes; this is how we grow.
Trust yoga practices to do the work. Faith in the techniques powerfully alters the way we teach, facilitating change and growth in students. Teach practices that encourage students to explore themselves at deeper levels. Be as invisible as possible and allow the teachings to shine through. Simply facilitate the process.
Remember that you are a student most of the time and a teacher for only a small percentage of your life. The humility derived from this realization powerfully affects our students.
Be prepared to show or share some of your weaknesses and limitations. Remind your students that you are not perfect. Sharing models possibilities for students very powerfully, and empowers them to change and grow.
Examine your image of what a yoga teacher should be. It is easy to create an unrealistic image for ourselves that will ultimately lead to disappointment.
Avoid the pitfall of trying to become a "guru." Students' adulation can be intoxicating and can cause ego inflation, the exact opposite of spirituality. So be prepared to remain grounded in who you really are. A false guru aims to direct students' lives. A true guru empowers students to find their own way.
Remind yourself that you are only human and that life is challenging for us all. A yoga teacher has problems but attempts to face them with awareness, grace, and poise. Encourage your students to employ yogic methods to better deal with life's difficulties. Educate them in which techniques they can use outside of the yoga class.